MINELRES: ERRC: Russian Police Arrested in Connection with Extortion and Abuse

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Jun 30 16:51:05 2004


Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>


On June 23, 2004, the European Roma Rights Center sent a letter to Mr
Vladimir Vasilievich Ustinov, the General Prosecutor of the Russian
Federation, pertaining to the arrest of four police officers  a major,
two 
senior lieutenants and a lieutenant  on suspicion of extortion, group
robbery and abuse of power in relation to an incident involving Romani
individuals in the city of Novosibirsk. In its letter, the ERRC detailed
the reported abduction of a Romani couple and their young daughter by at
least eight officers, the reported torture of all three family members
and subsequent extortion of a large sum of money by the officers. The
ERRC urged Mr Ustinov to take action to ensure that all officers
involved in the incident be brought swiftly to justice and that the
racial animus of the incident and the allegations of torture be
explored. The letter was copied to Mr Vladimir Vasilievich Tocarev, the
Regional Prosecutor of Novosibirsk. The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr Ustinov,

I am writing to you on behalf of the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC),
an international public interest law organisation defending the rights
of Roma in Europe, to draw your attention to important developments and
urge a swift action by your office.

The case involves the recent arrest of four police officers in the city
of Novosibirsk in relation to the extortion of money from and torture of
Romani individuals. On June 10, 2004, the Moscow-based Russian daily
newspaper Kommersant reported that four police officers, including a
major, two senior lieutenants and a lieutenant, were arrested in
Novosibirsk, on suspicion of extortion, group robbery and abuse of
power. According to the daily, the arrest followed an incident in March
2004 during which at least eight police officers abducted a 3-member
Romani family and tortured the young couple in front of their 8-year-old
daughter in the forest close to the nearby town of Krasny jar. The
officers reportedly beat the child as well. During the physical abuse,
the officers stole the family's gold jewellery and demanded 30 million
Russian roubles (approximately 855,000 Euro), according to the daily.
The following morning, the officers finally ceased torturing the couple
when they agreed to pay 1 million Russian roubles (approximately 28,500
Euro). At this time, one of the officers accompanied the Romani woman to
get the money while the remaining officers held her husband and child
hostage. Following the family's release, the couple filed a complaint
with the local police investigator against the officers involved and,
with a delay of several months, after a search of their homes and
offices on the morning of June 9, 2004, the four officers were arrested
the same day. Kommersant reported that the local investigator is going
to recommend to the local court that the four officers be charged in
accordance with the three crimes mentioned above.

Kommersant also reported that the officers were involved in a similar
incident in November 2003, during which a relative of the couple
involved in the March 2004 incident was abducted while walking in the
streets of Novosibirsk and taken to a forest where he was beaten by
police officers for seven hours while the officers demanded money. In
this incident, the Romani man moved away from the town because the
officers had threatened to burn his "Gypsy" family after he refused to
give them money.

Mr Ustinov, ERRC research conducted in Russia since 2000 indicates a
high level of anti-Romani sentiment in the country which colours the
interactions between Roma and their non-Romani counterparts. Widespread
racist abuse of Roma exists in Russia and in many cases the perpetrators
are law enforcement officials. The ERRC calls on your office to ensure
that all officers involved in the extortion of money from and the
torture of the Romani family be brought swiftly to justice. Therefore,
we urge that an investigation against the other four officers reportedly
involved in the abuse be opened, and that the investigation against the
officers arrested on June 9 explores the racial animus of the incident
and takes into consideration torture.

The ERRC respectfully requests to be informed of all actions undertaken
by your office in this regard. We also welcome the opportunity to
discuss this case with you further.

Sincerely,

Dimitrina Petrova
Executive Director

Persons wishing to express similar concerns are urged to contact:

Mr Vladimir Vasilievich Ustinov
General Prosecutor
Russian General Prosecutor's Office
B. Dmitrovka str. nr. 15a
125993 Moscow GSP-3 Russia
Fax: + 70 95 292 8848

Mr Vladimir Vasilievich Tocarev, Novosibirsk Regional Prosecutor
Novosibirsk Regional Prosecutor's Office
Kamenskaia str. nr. 20-a.
Novosibirsk reg. 630099, Russia
Fax: +70 383 23 7468

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary


Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

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